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Just a Thought - The iPod "Fad"

by - January 20th, 2004

Fad \Fad\, n. [Cf. Faddle.]
A hobby; freak; whim.

You've no doubt read that Dell CEO Kevin Rollins has as much as dismissed Apple's iPod as a "fad". For many iPod owners, calling the iPod a fad is like saying that breathing is a passing fancy; merely a footnote along the path of evolution.

Webster's perennial dictionary defines fad as a hobby, freak, or a whim. In that regard, maybe Mr. Rollins is correct in his assessment of Apple's popular player.

A hobby is an activity we like to do when we have time to do them. I can think of a diaper load of stuff that people are into to keep themselves occupied, from nude ballroom dancing to origami. (I imagine that someone may enjoy nude origami, but I'd be wary of the unfortunate paper cut.)

Hobbies are what we enjoy as oppose to what we may do for a living. If you are a lucky stiff, your hobby and your job are one in the same, but most folks work to earn a living, and have several hobbies to occupy their time away from work.

I use to keep fresh water fish before I moved to Florida. I absolutely enjoyed it (even though I was fully clothed), and I do believe it was one of the few diversions available to me at that time that allowed me to remain sane while dealing with the pressures of a new job, new career, and new daughter.

One of my other hobbies was collecting and listening to music. My album collection had reached 500+ by the time CDs became widely available. I still have about 300 albums.

Today my iPod allows me to take my music with me, offering a bit of serenity in the hustle of my daily life.

So, is my iPod a hobby? Yeah, I would say so.

Mr. Webster defines 'freak' as a sudden causeless change of mind, a whim of fancy, a vagary, a caprice.

I'm not sure how the iPod fits in that definition, unless you allow that the iPod does let you change your mind about what you are listening to easily. Don't like what's playing? Hit a button and something else plays. It's all your music, the stuff you like at some time or another, so you are bound to find something that strikes your fancy.

So, iPod as a freak? Freakin' A!

How about the iPod as a whim?

When the iPod first came out I might have agreed with anyone who might claim that the little white music player would be little more than a rather expensive toy. I mean, it's a music player, for cryin' out loud! How pedestrian is that?

What I didn't think about, and what Mr. Rollins has also overlooked, is that while the iPod, in its current incarnation, might exist for a few years, the iPod as a concept may hang around for a very, very long time. Why? Because it's a music player, and, as Steve Jobs has so eloquently put it; "It's about the music, stupid!"

By bonding the iPod so closely to something that is so fundamental to people, Apple has all but guaranteed that the iPod, in one form or another, will be around to let people play music they way they want to, where ever they want to, and however they want to.

The iPod a whim? Only time will tell, but it looks like the little player that could, can, and will be around for some time to come.

Well, Mr. Rollins, as Meatloaf might tell you, two out of three ain't bad.

Pet rocks were fads, streaking was a fad, naming your kids after weeds or tree bark was a fad; music is not a fad.

And iPod is about the music.

is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

You can send your comments directly to me, or you can also post your comments below.

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